Thursday, June 01, 2017

“Dong Yi” spoiler-free synopsis by episode (Eps. 1-60) and theme-based recaps



Memorable scenes of Dong Yi and King Sukjong



Cast of characters and OST



“Dong Yi” is an award-winning 2010 Korean historical drama that has been broadcast in Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore. Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Mongolia, and Iran. Twenty of its 60 episodes reached over 30% viewership ratings in Korea, with the whole series getting an average of 26.5% viewership rating.

The drama’s cast who won numerous acting awards are the lead stars Han Hyo-joo (in the title role “Dong Yi”) and Ji Jin-hee (as “King Sukjong”), and other supporting cast like Lee So-yeon (“Lady Jang”), Park Ha-sun (“Queen Inhyeon”), and Kim Yoo-jung (young Dong Yi).

The “Dong Yi” character is based on the historical figure Suk-bin Choe, one of the best known royal concubines of King Sukjong of Joseon.
Jump to synopsis of Episode 1 to 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38; 39; 40; 41; 42; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 50; 51; 52; 53; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 60; How to turn on the English, Italian, or Spanish subs for the embedded videos; “Dong Yi” OST and videos on “haegeum” (Korean musical instrument used in this drama); “Dong Yi” and its connections with other dramas like “The Flower in Prison,” “The King’s Doctor,” “Jumong,” and “Yi San”; Historical backgrounders, review, and analysis; Lessons in photography from “Dong Yi”; Free 500-plus interactive grammar and vocabulary exercises based on “Dong Yi” and other Korean historical dramas (external link); Theme-based video recaps

How I made these synopses spoiler-free


1. I assumed that you will be reading these synopses and watching the videos chronologically.

2. I narrated the main actions in each episode without revealing the plot’s twists and turns.

3. At the beginning of each synopsis starting with Episode 5, I placed in a table a summary of the major twists and turns of the previous episode. But because you have already watched the video of the previous episode, they aren’t spoilers anymore.

(I used this same structure in my recaps of “Six Flying Dragons,” “The Flower in Prison,” “A Jewel in the Palace,” “Moonlight Drawn By Clouds,” “Rebel: Thief Who Stole The People,” “Jumong,” and “Saimdang, Light’s Diary.”)

How to turn on the English, Italian, or Spanish subs for the embedded videos


Throughout this blog post, I have embedded HD videos of some great scenes from this drama. (When you click the “Play” button, the video will open directly to the relevant scene.) The videos come from the official MBC Classic YouTube channel, and they all have English or Spanish subs. When you click the “cc” icon, you can choose English, Italian, or Spanish subs. If you have any problem seeing the “cc” icon, here’s what you can do:

1. Read this blog post on a desktop or laptop computer; the “cc” icon at the bottom portion of the video will generally appear at once. Click the “cc” icon and choose either English or Spanish.

2. If you’re using a mobile device (tablet or smartphone), use Chrome as your browser instead of Mozilla Firefox. Chrome usually displays the “cc” icon even on mobile devices.

If your preferred browser is Mozilla Firefox, click the full screen option; the “cc” icon should appear in that mode.

3. If you can’t see the “cc” icon for any reason, right-click the video, copy the video URL, and open the video on a new tab.

Episodes 1-4: The Sword Fraternity


Dong Yi is the intelligent and cheerful 12-year old daughter of a former corpse handler (coroner) and the sister of a royal musician.

Unknown to Dong Yi, her father is the leader of the Sword Fraternity, a secret organization that’s composed of lowborns who protect their fellow lowborns from abusive nobles and oppressive government officials. Her brother and his friend Chun Soo are also members of the Sword Fraternity.

Lord Oh Tae-Suk is a high-ranking government minister and a leader of the Southerners political faction. To consolidate his power, he orders the killing of three of the faction’s leaders. One of the targeted leaders — the Inspector General — ends up by the river where Dong Yi and her friend Gaeduara find him. By the time Dong Yi returns with the policemen, however, the Inspector General has died.

Police Chief Suh asks Dong Yi’s father (his mentor and old friend) to conduct the autopsy. But Lord Oh frames the Sword Fraternity for the killings; he also frames Dong Yi and her father for killing the suspect who was arrested by Chief Suh.

To save Dong Yi and her father, Chief Suh asks his father (a high-government official) to plead with the King to reopen the investigation.

On the run, Dong Yi meets a court lady who knows the mysterious hand signals that the dying Inspector General tried to show her by the river.

Chun Soo takes Dong Yi and Gaedura to safety under Sulhee, a gisaeng. He then goes to rescue Dong Yi’s father and brother.

Episode 5: “Omen of Discordance”


Episodes 1-4 recap:



Dong Yi’s father and brother are killed on the mountain top, while Chun Soo falls off the cliff.

Chief Suh catches up with Dong Yi on a mountain but allows her to escape.

Determined to prove that her father is innocent, Dong Yi refuses to escape with Gaeduara. She asks Sulhee to help her enter the Palace so that she can look for the court lady who knows the mysterious hand signals.

At the Palace, Dong Yi becomes a slave at the Bureau of Music.
Six years later ...

Because of Dong Yi’s diligence and cheerfulness, the royal musicians and even her fellow slaves have come to depend on her for all their needs. Her mentors and friends at the Bureau are Young-dal (a flutist) and Manager Hwang Joo-shik (a minor official).

Dong Yi continues to search for the court lady by volunteering to work with the slaves who are assigned to clean up the quarters of the court ladies; she hopes to identify the court lady through her butterfly accessory.

Dong Yi has become proficient with the “haegeum” (fiddle), and one night, King Sukjong hears her playing a hauntingly beautiful melody.

King Sukjong wants to recall to the Palace his beloved Lady Jang to be his concubine and to help balance the warring South and West political factions. But together with the leader of the Westerners, the Queen Mother devises a way to use the “Omen of Discordance” (destruction of notes) to foil the King’s plans.

Disturbed by the omen, Dong Yi secretly watches what’s going on at Lady Jang’s quarters.

Episode 6: Dong Yi and the Justice Officer


Episode 5 recap:

The “Omen of Discordance” (destruction of notes) is a widely-held belief that broken music signals a nation’s ruin.

Dong Yi gets kidnapped, and, in the hut where she’s taken, she finds the dead body of the chime maker and a piece of rock salt.
Dong Yi escapes from her kidnappers and reports to a patrol station about the dead chime maker. Meanwhile, the officer who hired the kidnappers reports Dong Yi’s escape to the leader of the Westerners. As they begin searching for Dong Yi among the palace slaves, the Queen Mother visits Lady Jang and blames her for causing the “Omen of Discordance.”

The people in the capital become frightened by the omen and begin panic-buying. As riots threaten to break out, State Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon urges Lord Oh to abandon Lady Jang.

With Young-dal’s help, Dong Yi begins investigating what could have caused the omen. But Manager Hwang Joo-shik warns her that no one will believe her because she’s a slave.

Dissatisfied with the investigation by the State Tribunal and the Inspector General, King Sukjong meets all the top commanders of the Left and Right Police Bureaus, including the newly-installed Chief Suh. But during the meeting, another commander claims the credit for Chief Suh’s idea on how to solve the case.

While investigating the omen on his own, King Sukjong meets Dong Yi in the hut where the kidnappers brought her. He hides his identity and introduces himself to Dong Yi as a Justice Officer of the prefecture.

Episode 7: The Royal Banquet; Dong Yi and Lady Jang


Episode 6 recap:

Not knowing that the Justice Officer is really King Sukjong, Dong Yi steps on his back so that she can climb over the wall. They find some more pieces of rock salt, but they get cornered by several sword-wielding men.

Police Chief Suh gets the Royal Dispatch Seal, and he rushes with his men to rescue King Sukjong.

Having found out how the “Omen of Discordance” (destruction of notes) was faked, King Sukjong rewards Dong Yi and the Bureau of Music. Dong Yi thinks that the Justice Officer graciously informed King Sukjong about what she did.

As Chief Suh gains King Sukjong's favor, his rivalry with State Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon of the Southerners deepens.

Officer Oh Yoon interrogates the men who attacked King Sukjong and Dong Yi. With the complicity of the Queen Mother and the Western faction about to be exposed, the faction’s leader orders the silencing of the officer who hired the men.

Despite the misgivings of the South faction’s leader, Lady Jang visits her nemesis, the Queen Mother, and gives her a peace offering.

New officials are assigned to the Bureau of Music; they’re a father-and-son team related to the leader of the Southerners. The son, Ho Yang, is a playboy who likes the dancers at the Bureau. He notices Dong Yi and begins flirting with her, but when Dong Yi rejects him, he orders the other slaves to beat her.

Episode 8: The medicinal herbs


Episode 7 recap:

King Sukjong rewards Dong Yi and the Bureau of Music with a royal banquet; he also gives her silk, jade, and gold.

When Dong Yi recites a Chinese poem about chrysanthemums, Lady Jang becomes impressed with her intelligence and literacy.

Dong Yi musters enough courage to ask Lady Jang to show her butterfly accessory.


Despite her attendant’s protest, Lady Jang shows her butterfly accessory to Dong Yi.

Lady Jang orders her attendant to investigate Dong Yi’s background; Dong Yi, meanwhile, is amazed to find out that Lady Jang is a lowborn like her.

To test if Dong Yi can be trusted, the attendant recommends her to Lady Jang’s mother. And so, Lady Jang’s mother asks Dong Yi to sneak some medicinal herbs into the Palace. While waiting for the herbs, Dong Yi meets the disciple of the seer who earlier predicted Lady Jang’s fate.

The seer and his disciple bring the medicinal herbs that they bought to a temple where the seer has entrusted a critically-wounded man whom he found years ago.

While playing “baduk” (Joseon checkers), Lady Jang suggests to King Sukjong that he should forget the “Omen of Discordance” incident. Afterwards, King Sukjong secretly visits Chief Suh at the police headquarters. While they’re having tea, Chief Suh is stunned when King Sukjong mentions that the girl who found the chime-maker’s body is named Dong Yi. Later, Chief Suh orders his trusted officer to investigate Dong Yi's slave records at the Bureau of Music.

On the way back, King Sukjong and his men see Dong Yi trying to climb over a wall of the Palace.

Crisis ensues in the Palace when the silver spoons that are used for detecting poison changed color when they were used in Queen Inhyeon’s tonics.

Dong Yi goes to the mountain top where her father and brother died to celebrate their death anniversary. Being emotional over everything that has been happening to her, she unknowingly leaves on the mountain top the Sword Fraternity headband that Chun Soo gave to her years ago.



Episode 9: Dong Yi and Police Chief Suh


Episode 8 recap:

Dong Yi is disappointed that Lady Jang’s butterfly accessory isn’t what she has been looking for.

Chun Soo finds on the mountain top the Sword Fraternity headband that he gave to Dong Yi years ago.

Dong Yi is arrested and brought to the police headquarters.

The herbalist, who prepared the herbs that were ordered by Lady Jang’s mother, turns up dead. Everyone who dealt with him the previous day are questioned at the police headquarters, and Chief Suh orders that Dong Yi be brought to his office.

Shaken by meeting Chief Suh again, Dong Yi calms down by playing the haegeum, and King Sukjong hears her hauntingly beautiful melody again.

As Dong Yi gets instructions from Lady Jang’s attendants, she’s seen by one of the Queen Mother’s court maids. After the maid reports what she saw, the Queen Mother and the West faction’s leader hatch a plan to bring down Lady Jang.

Chun Soo says goodbye to the seer who has looked after him all these years and begins searching for Dong Yi in the capital. Meanwhile, at a tavern, Young-dal and Manager Hwang Joo-shik meet and get into trouble with some lady investigators.

Acting on an anonymous complaint, Lady Yu of the Office of Investigations orders that Dong Yi be arrested for bringing prohibited herbs into the Palace. When Dong Yi refuses to implicate Lady Jang, another senior investigator (Lady Jung) tries to reason with her. But, growing impatient and setting aside the rules, Lady Yu orders that Dong Yi be tortured.

Episode 10: The morgue


Episode 9 recap:

Lady Jang saves Dong Yi from being tortured by voluntarily submitting herself to the authority of the lady investigators.

Dong Yi is released when Lady Jang submits herself to the authority of the Office of Investigations.

The Queen Mother and the leader of the Westerners put into motion their plan to bring down Lady Jang (and with her, the Southerners).

King Sukjong orders Chief Suh to secretly investigate who brought the toxic herb that was used to poison Queen Inhyeon’s tonics.

Things get worse when Lady Jang is accused of trying to poison Queen Inhyeon. But King Sukjong is helpless to do anything because it’s a matter under the Inner Court’s jurisdiction.

Dong Yi pleads with Lady Jung of the Office of Investigations that Lady Jang is innocent. But Lady Jung advises her that she should rather be thinking of how to escape from her situation.

With Lady Jang now in danger of being charged with high treason, Lord Oh plans to turn Dong Yi into a scapegoat.

Determined to prove that Lady Jang is innocent, Dong Yi goes to the prefecture’s office to seek the Justice Officer’s help. Later, she goes to the police headquarters, hoping to examine the herbalist’s corpse at the morgue. Unknown to her, Chun Soo has become a corpse-handler in the police headquarters.

Episode 11: The reward


Episode 10 recap:

Police Chief Suh catches Dong Yi at the morgue, but she shows him the proof of Lady Jang’s innocence.

On her way back to the Bureau of Music, Dong Yi is attacked by the men sent by Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon (Lord Oh’s nephew).

King Sukjong (aka the Justice Officer) and his men rescue Dong Yi. Later, he confirms with Chief Suh the evidence that Dong Yi found.

As Lady Jang is released from her detention at the Office of Investigations, she turns her anger at the lady investigators, especially Lady Yu.

Jang Hee-jae, Lady Jang’s brother, arrives in the capital. Promptly creating trouble, he runs to Young-dal’s house where he meets Chun Soo. Later, as he visits the Palace, he warns Lady Jang to avoid Dong Yi.

When Lady Jang asks that Dong Yi be rewarded for helping her, King Sukjong hesitates.



Episode 12: Dong Yi and Lady Yu


Episode 11 recap:

The Justice Officer (aka King Sukjong) meets Dong Yi, Young-dal, and Hwang Joo-shik at the market; they have drinks and eat pork skin, which the Justice Officer really enjoys. Walking along the festive streets afterwards, the Justice Officer thanks Dong Yi for fulfilling one of his dreams — spending a day in the capital’s streets as a common man.

Based on Lady Jang’s request, the King asks Queen Inhyeon to appoint Dong Yi as a court lady and to assign her as a lady investigator.

With their anger towards Dong Yi and because she is a lowborn slave, the Head Lady Investigator and Lady Yu protest her appointment with Queen Inhyeon. The junior lady investigators, meanwhile, shun Dong Yi because of her connection with Lady Jang.

Jang Hee-jae (Lady Jang’s brother) is appointed as a police officer under Chief Suh. At the headquarters, he catches Chun Soo going through the records of slaves.

Queen Inhyeon’s attendant reminds her to beware of Lady Jang’s ambitions in the Inner Court; on the other hand, Lord Oh and Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon question Lady Jang’s wisdom in pushing for Dong Yi to become part of the Office of Investigations.

Encouraged by the Queen Mother, Lady Yu devises a plan to get Dong Yi immediately kicked out. But the leader of the Westerners hesitates, and Lady Jang finds out about the plan.

Episode 13: Dong Yi and Queen Inhyeon


Episode 12 recap:

Despite the Queen Mother’s objection that Dong Yi is a lowborn slave, Queen Inhyeon stands firm and refuses to withdraw Dong Yi’s appointment.

Dong Yi fails the exam and must therefore leave the Office of Investigations. When she complains about the unfairness in the conduct of the exams, Lady Yu slaps her.

Lady Jung and Lady Bong sympathize with Dong Yi’s plight; they plead with the Head Lady Investigator and Lady Yu to preserve the integrity of Office of Investigations.

The Queen Mother tells Queen Inhyeon not to interfere with the Office of Investigations, reminding her that Dong Yi’s backer is Lady Jang. Meanwhil, Lady Jang’s attendant urges her to protect her standing in court by intervening on Dong Yi’s behalf.

After Queen Inhyeon visits the Office of Investigations, the Justice Officer (aka King Sukjong) visits Dong Yi late at night.

King Sukjong goes on a retreat and decides to strengthen the Southerners against the ruling Westerners. He also decides to appoint Lady Jang as a Royal Concubine.

Episode 14: The reunion


Episode 13 recap:

Through Lady Jung and Lady Bong, Queen Inhyeon learns how Dong Yi failed the exams. She replaces the Head Lady Investigator and demotes Lady Yu. She also orders that Dong Yi be allowed to retake the exam.

The Justice Officer (aka King Sukjong) helps Dong Yi to prepare for the exam.

Dong Yi meets Chief Suh during the training but fails to see Chun Soo.

Dong Yi realizes, through the Sword Fraternity headband, that Chun Soo is alive. Learning from Young-dal where Chun Soo works, she runs to the police headquarters to meet Chun Soo.

Realizing that Chun Soo could be a valuable asset, Jang Hee-jae asks him to help smuggle guns into Joseon.

The Qing envoy and his entourage arrive at the capital. Dong Yi and the other lady investigators are ordered to work undercover at the Qing compound and to look for the smuggler among the entourage.

Unknown to Lady Jang, Jang Hee-jae seeks the favor of the Bureau of Music’s director so that he can meet Lord Oh and offer him a deal.

King Sukjong and Lady Jang talk about Dong Yi’s work as a lady investigator.

In the Qing compound, Dong Yi finds a mysterious piece of paper with Chinese characters written on it, but the characters don’t make any sense.

Episode 15: Dong Yi and King Sukjong


Episode 14 recap:

Dong Yi and Chun Soo meet each other again.

Through Jang Hee-jae, Lord Oh makes a deal with the smuggler Kim Yoon-dal; he betrays the lady investigators, who promptly get kicked out of the Qing compound.

When Dong Yi gets chased by the Qing soldiers, she runs and ends up seeing the Justice Officer at the compound.

King Sukjong (aka the Justice Officer) refuses to let the Qing soldiers take Dong Yi. As she is led back to the Palace, Dong Yi is shocked to discover who the Justice Officer really is. Later, the King orders that Dong Yi be brought to him.

Chief Suh shows King Sukjong how the mysterious piece of paper that Dong Yi found can be decoded and what its message means.

Jang Hee-jae plans to take revenge against Dong Yi because of the problems that she created for him.

Crisis erupts later on at the royal court when the Qing envoy demands that Dong Yi must be turned over to him, so that she can be brought back to Qing for investigation and punishment.

Chun Soo hires a boat that he and Dong Yi can use to escape from the capital. When the Head Eunuch can’t find Dong Yi in the Office of Investigations, Lady Yu assembles all of the lady investigators and orders them to begin searching for Dong Yi.

Episode 16: The decision


Episode 15 recap:

King Sukjong tells Dong Yi to treat him the way she did when she knew him only as the Justice Officer.

King Sukjong refuses to hand Dong Yi over to the Qing envoy, but all the ministers protest that Dong Yi must be sacrificed for the good of the nation.

Dong Yi decides to turn herself over to the Qing envoy.
Dong Yi turns herself over to the Qing envoy, but she tells the envoy that the Kim Yoon-dal incident is a trap. The envoy gives her three days to prove that what she’s saying is true, otherwise she will be punished for holding the Qing Dynasty in contempt.

Despite stiff opposition from both the South and West factions, King Sukjong refuses to give up Dong Yi and plans to send the royal guards to get her from the Qing compound.

Through Young-dal, Dong Yi contacts Lady Jung and Jung-im and asks for their help. Meanwhile, Jang Hee-jae asks for Chun Soo to help someone immediately get out of Joseon.

Episode 17: The Queen Mother


Episode 16 recap:

Chun Soo betrays Jang Hee-jae, and Chief Suh arrests Kim Yoon-dal, the smuggler.

At a feast, King Sukjong meets Dong Yi, Young-dal, and Hwang Joo-shik. Sensing that Lady Jang is becoming jealous of Dong Yi, he announces her appointment as a Royal Consort.

The Queen Mother and the Westerners oppose Lady Jang’s appointment as Royal Consort. But King Sukjong says that there’s a valid reason for her promotion.

With Lady Jang’s promotion, Lord Oh orders Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon to now put into action the plans that they have delayed. Officer Oh Yoon protests, however, when Lord Oh says that Jang Hee-jae should be promoted.

King Sukjong surprises Dong Yi by visiting her at the Office of Investigations at night.

When Dong Yi continues searching for the butterfly accessory, Chun Soo warns her of the consequences.

The Queen Mother becomes seriously sick, but the royal physicians don’t know why.

While the lady investigators search the quarters of Lady Jang’s attendants, Dong Yi arrives and is scolded by one of the attendants for not tipping them off.

Queen Inhyeon secretly orders Lady Jung to investigate a mysterious letter connected to the Queen Mother’s sickness. Despite Jung-im’s protest that Dong Yi is fiercely loyal to Lady Jang, Lady Jung asks Dong Yi to join the investigation.

Episode 18: Crossing over to the dark side


Episode 17 recap:

Lady Jang gives birth to a son.

Chun Soo tells Dong Yi that the Queen Mother could have become sick when her tonics were mixed with other tonics.

In her investigation, Dong Yi begins following Lady Jang’s attendant.

Dong Yi confronts Lady Jang’s attendant about what she gave to the royal physician and the prescription for a tonic that was found in her quarters. Later, Dong Yi remembers Lady Jung’s warning that “people with great ambitions cannot be trusted.”

After Lady Jang finds out that her brother Jang Hee-jae planned the Queen Mother’s poisoning, she orders him to stop everything that he’s planning.

When the physician-in-charge at the Royal Pharmacy refuses to give Dong Yi the daily records of medicinal herbs and tonics, she waits and later sneaks into the records room.

With the record of the medicinal herbs and tonics in her hands, Dong Yi walks away from the Royal Pharmacy in deep thought. She’s startled when Lady Jang’s chief attendant calls her and brings her to Lady Jang’s quarters.

Finding out the Queen Mother is critically sick, King Sukjong wanders around the palace by himself. He finds Dong Yi alone near the pond.

With Chief Suh’s help, Dong Yi tracks down the woman who sent the mysterious letter to Queen Inhyeon. But the woman escapes from the Palace.



Episode 19: Eclipse of faith


Episode 18 recap:

The royal physician shocks everyone — King Sukjong, Dong Yi, Lady Jung, and the other lady investigators — by confessing that Queen Inhyeon ordered the Queen Mother’s poisoning.

With both Queen Inhyeon and Lady Jang now the principal suspects in the Queen Mother’s poisoning, the King orders Chief Suh to investigate.

Lady Jang and Chief Suh warn Dong Yi that if she can’t find the proof of Queen Inhyeon’s innocence, they (Lady Jung, Jung-im, and Dong Yi) will be implicated. Later, Dong Yi rushes to Lady Jang’s quarters, but the attendants block her.

Jang Hee-jae assures Lord Oh that everything is under control.

Dong Yi asks Lady Jung to help her speak with Queen Inhyeon and to retrace their steps beginning with the anonymous letter sent to Queen Inhyeon. Meanwhile, Chief Suh and his men search the house of the royal physician who implicated Queen Inhyeon.

King Sukjong asks his Head Eunuch to bring Dong Yi to him. At that same time, however, Lady Jang is on her way to see King Sukjong.

In the market, Dong Yi meets Lady Jang’s mother and the wife of the Bureau of Music’s director. As they maltreat Dong Yi for betraying Lady Jang, Young-dal comes to her rescue.

After following the money trail, Chief Suh reports his findings to King Sukjong. When Queen Inhyeon can’t explain things adequately, King Sukjong orders the transfer of the investigation from Chief Suh to the State Tribunal (under Officer Oh Yoon of the Southerners).

Despite the threat of being arrested by the State Tribunal, Dong Yi leaves the Palace with Chun Soo to follow up some leads to prove Queen Inhyeon’s innocence. But Jang Hee-jae sends his men to follow them.

Episode 20: Queen Inhyeon and Lady Jang


Episode 19 recap:

The investigation reveals that Queen Inhyeon and her family have close ties with the royal physician.

Lady Jang confronts Queen Inhyeon and brazenly tells her that she will become Queen.

Dong yi is captured by Jang Hee-jae’s men, while Chief Suh takes Chun Soo and the trade clan’s secretary to the police headquarters for investigation.

At the palace, the Queen Mother’s condition becomes worse, and Lady Jang’s attendant tells King Sukjong that it is Queen Inhyeon’s fault.

Chun Soo threatens Jang Hee-jae’s aide to reveal where Dong Yi has been taken. Later, Jang Hee-jae’s men attack a police squad that’s escorting the secretary who prepared the fake money order.

With the Queen Mother on the verge of death, the Southerners continue to pressure King Sukjong into deposing Queen Inhyeon. To stop the State Tribunal’s interrogation of Queen Inhyeon’s family members, servants, and court attendants, Dong Yi boldly goes to see Jang Hee-jae.

But as Chief Suh, Dong Yi, and Chun Soo continue to search for the genuine money order, a servant of Queen Inhyeon’s family cracks under torture and falsely confesses.

Episode 21: The dethronement


Episode 20 recap:

When the Queen Mother dies, the King can no longer oppose the ministers who want Queen Inhyeon to be dethroned.

Dong Yi tries to see King Sukjong in person and to give him the evidence proving Queen Inhyeon’s innocence, but the royal guards stop her. Undaunted, she stays outside and waits for the Head Eunuch. Later, she meets Chief Suh and Queen Inhyeon herself.

After Queen Inhyeon is dethroned, Dong Yi goes to visit Lady Jang, but Jang Hee-jae blocks her way.

Lord Oh arranges a promotion for Jang Hee-jae as the Chief of the Left Police Bureau. Later, Chief Suh transfers Chun Soo to another post.

The wife of the Bureau of Music’s director brings Lady Jang’s mother to a shaman. Lady Jang’s mother, however, becomes upset with the shaman’s prediction.

While the Confucian scholars continue their protest, King Sukjong finds out about the problem with the shortage of copper coins.

Lady Yu assigns Dong Yi to audit the Office of the Royal Treasury, which is managed by the eunuchs. When Lady Jang learns about this assignment, she promises that Lady Yu will be the next Head Lady Investigator.



Episode 22: The lady investigators versus the eunuchs


Episode 21 recap:

After Queen Inhyeon is dethroned, Dong Yi confronts Lady Jang and warns her that the truth will someday come out.

Lady Jang connives with investigator Lady Yu to discredit Dong Yi before the King.

Despite being maltreated by the eunuchs, Dong Yi persists and soon finds evidence that money from the Royal Treasury was used to fund Queen Inhyeon’s dethronement. She then tells Chief Suh about what she found out.

When conflict over Dong Yi arises between the lady investigators and the eunuchs, King Sukjong steps in and settles the conflict.

King Sukjong tells his Head Eunuch to summon Young-dal and Manager Hwang Joo-shik. But Lady Jang finds out about it later on.

Dong Yi visits deposed Queen Inhyeon as often as she can and assures her that she and others are working to have her status restored.

While Chun Soo continues to watch Jang Hee-jee’s meetings with the Royal Treasury official, the Inspector General confirms Dong Yi’s findings. When Chief Suh says that they need the original document from the Royal Treasury, Dong Yi volunteers to get the document. But Lady Jung and Jung Im don’t want her to go back to the Royal Treasury.

When King Sukjong travels to the Royal Tombs, Lady Jang and Jang Hee-jae take this opportunity to get rid of the records at the Royal Treasury and to kill Dong Yi, once and for all.

Episode 23: The chase


Episode 22 recap:

King Sukjong secretly meets Dong Yi and tells her why he asked the Office of Investigations to stop auditing how the eunuchs are managing the Royal Treasury.

Jang Hee-jae’s men burn down the Royal Treasury and chase after Dong Yi.

Chased by Jang Hee-jae’s assassins, Dong Yi seeks refuge at the house of the Inspector General. But the assassins follow her there.

While hunting, King Sukjong receives the news that the Royal Treasury has been burned down; he and his entourage hurry back to the Palace.

Queen Inhyeon learns from the leader of the Westerners that Lady Jung and Jung Im have been arrested and that Dong Yi has disappeared without a trace.

Failing to find Dong Yi anywhere, Chun Soo storms into the Left Police Bureau and threatens Jang Hee-jae. Chief Suh hastily follows him there.

Confused by the conflicting reports from Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon and Chief Suh, King Sukjong confronts Lady Jang.

Episode 24: Uiju


Episode 23 recap:

Dong Yi collapses on the mountain, unable to reach the King.

Chief Suh is dismissed from his position by the King.

Lady Jang finally becomes the Queen.

Three months later ...

Despite becoming Queen, Lady Jang is beset by nightmares about Dong Yi and by the people’s rejection of her as the Queen. To make matters worse, a novel that’s a thinly-veiled story of how Queen Inhyeon was unjustly dethroned begins circulating in the capital and in the Palace itself. Even King Sukjong has read the novel.

To legitimize her status, Queen Jang orders Jang Hee-jae to immediately get the Qing Empire’s recognition of her son as the Crown Prince.

Searching for Dong Yi, Chief Suh and Chun Soo raid the camps of human traffickers in and around the capital. But even with the help of soldiers, they can’t find Dong Yi, and time is running out.

Dong Yi is in Uiju, which is more than 200 miles away from the capital. She repeatedly tries to get in touch with Chun Soo through letters and the stone messages that she sends out through the itinerant merchants.

Episode 25: Dong Yi and Scholar Shim Woon Taek


Episode 24 recap:

King Sukjong secretly orders Chief Suh and Chun Soo to search for Dong Yi.

Dong Yi is in Uiju under the authority of a merchant who wants her to continue managing his business and later to be his concubine. While working for the merchant, she meets Shim Woon Taek, a scholar who has been exiled to Uiju for the last three years and who’s trying to make ends meet.

As Dong Yi is about to run away, she sees Jang Hee-jae on the road. Jang Hee-jae has come to Uiju to make a deal with the Qing officials for the recognition of Queen Jang’s son as the Crown Prince.

Shim Woon Taek also sees Jang Hee-jae, and later, he pressures Dong Yi into telling him who she really is and why she’s so afraid of Jang Hee-jae. They then come up with a plan to infiltrate Jang Hee-jae’s meeting with the Qing officials.

Meanwhile, back in the capital, Lady Jung and Jung-im visit deposed Queen Inhyeon, and there, they meet the leaders of the Westerners. Unknown to them, however, they’re being watched.

As Queen Jang waits for the King in his office, she finds the shoes that the King ordered made for Dong Yi.



Episode 26: The rescue


Episode 25 recap:

Jang Hee-jae agrees to give the records of Joseon’s military defenses in exchange for Qing’s recognition of Queen Jang’s son as the Crown Prince.

Dong Yi meets Sulhee, the gisaeng who helped her when she was a child.

Jang Hee-jae intercepts Shim Woon Taek’s letter and finds out that Dong Yi is still alive.

Shim Woon-taek makes a deal with Jang Hee-jae: he will give him the records of Joseon’s military defenses if he lets Dong Yi go free. Jang Hee-jae agrees but plans to kill Shim Woon Taek after his men find the records. After Dong Yi is released, she quickly runs to Sulhee for help.

Meanwhile, on their way to Uiju, Chief Suh and Chun Soo stop at a government stable to change their weary horses. But all the horses in the stable have been taken by Jang Hee-jae and his men; without fresh horses, it will take several days for Chief Suh and Chun Soo to reach Uiju.

Episode 27: Silkworms and poison


Episode 26 recap:

With Sulhee’s help, Dong Yi rescues Shim Woon Taek.

As Dong Yi and Sulhee prepare to leave Uiju for the capital, Shim Woon Taek gives Dong Yi the genuine records; he has double-crossed Jang Hee-jae with some fake records.

Chief Suh and Chun Soo arrive in Uiju, but despite using the Royal Dispatch seal to mobilize soldiers, they can’t find either Dong Yi or Jang Hee-jae.

As Dong Yi and Sulhee travel to the capital, Jang Hee-jae tells Queen Jang that Dong Yi is alive. Later, Queen Jang tells Lord Oh and Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon about Dong Yi.

Chief Suh reports to the King that Jang Hee-jae tried to harm Dong Yi at Uiju. Meanwhile, Jang Hee-jae distributes wanted posters of Dong Yi and orders his officers and men to set up checkpoints on all roads and harbors leading into the capital.

Chun Soo sees Jang Hee-jae’s men watching every place that Dong Yi could be. Later, he gets into a fight with several men in Chief Suh’s residence.

Queen Jang decides to carry out a desperate plan to regain King Sukjong’s trust and, at the same time, to eliminate deposed Queen Inhyeon and her allies.

Dong Yi disguises herself as a man and, with Sulhee and her steward, tries to enter the capital. But at the gate, a police officer recognizes her through the wanted poster.

Episode 28: The water maid


Episode 27 recap:

Queen Jang orders her attendant to poison her tea during the silkworms ceremony.

Dong Yi disguises herself as a water maid, but she’s dragged away by the Palace guards before she can meet the King.

Chief Suh questions Chun Soo about what his real feelings are for Dong Yi.

Oh Ho Yang (son of the Bureau of Music’s director) recognizes Dong Yi despite her disguise as a water maid.

As Queen Jang regains consciousness, her mother hires thugs and sends them to Queen Inhyeon’s house.

Chief Suh and Chun Soo find out that Dong Yi has now reached the capital.

Inside the Palace, Dong Yi tries to get in touch with Lady Jung, her mentor at the Office of Investigations. But Jang Hee-jae finds out that she has entered the Palace as a water maid. He mobilizes his men and orders them to get Dong Yi, dead or alive.

Episode 29: The melody


Episode 28 recap:

Lady Jung and Jung-Im find Dong Yi in the quarters of the water maids. But they’re later arrested, leaving Dong Yi all by herself again. When Jang Hee-jae’s men spot her, they chase her, but she’s able to escape from the Palace.

Dong Yi turns to playing the haegeum to soothe her spirit. Unknown to her, King Sukjong is wandering around the capital, visiting the old places that he and Dong Yi went to. He then hears Dong Yi’s haunting melody and begins searching for the source of that music.

Dong Yi and King Sukjong are reunited. At the Royal Residence in the capital, she gives him the evidence that proves Queen Inhyeon’s innocence. Later, she meets Chief Suh and Chun Soo.

Jang Hee-jae beats up Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon’s subordinate for losing Dong Yi. Meanwhile, Queen Jang panics upon learning that King Sukjong left the Palace several hours ago and hasn’t returned.

While King Sukjong is telling Dong Yi that she’s so important to him that he ordered the Royal Physician to look after her, Chun Soo walks in on them.

Ae-jong rushes to see Lady Bong and tells her that there’s a way to save Lady Jung and Jung-im from the State Tribunal. Later, they secretly visit deposed Queen Inhyeon.

Queen Jang, her allies from the Southerners, and the Treasury officials become confused with King Sukjong’s actions, beginning with his promotion of Chief Suh.

Chief Suh orders his men to ransack the State Tribunal’s office and to question Queen Jang’s attendants. On Dong Yi’s suggestion, he also sends his men to the laundry quarters.

Dong Yi collapses because of all the stress that she has been through.

Lord Oh rallies the ministers from the South Faction to protest against Chief Suh’s promotion and actions. But later, officers from the Inspector General find the secret account ledgers of the Royal Treasury buried in the construction site.

Episode 30: Protecting Dong Yi


Episode 29 recap:

King Sukjong promotes Chief Suh as the commander of the Royal Guards.

Chief Suh lays out a trap for the corrupt Chief Steward of the Royal Treasury, and Jang Hee-jae is arrested by Chun Soo.

By threatening the nurse from the Royal Pharmacy, Queen Jang finds out where King Sukjong has hidden Dong Yi.

Jang Hee-jae, the Chief Steward of the Royal Treasury, and their men are locked up for interrogation, but Jang Hee-jae remains defiant. Queen Jang tells King Sukjong that the charges against Jang Hee-jae are false, and later, she visits Jang Hee-jae in prison.

Sulhee visits Dong Yi at the Royal Residence. Meanwhile, the State Tribunal releases Lady Jang, Jung-im, and the leader of the Westerners.

Queen Jang orders Lord Oh and the Southerners to discredit Dong Yi and the evidence that she found that proves the innocence of Queen Inhyeon. The Southerners meet King Sukjong and demand that Dong Yi be turned over to them for interrogation. They also demand that she be punished for abandoning her duties as a court lady.

Lord Oh sends assassins to kill Dong Yi.

Episode 31: Secrets


Episode 30 recap:

The assassins attack, but Dong Yi isn't at the Royal Residence; she has gone to visit Queen Inhyeon.

Queen Inhyeon tells Dong Yi that King Sukjong’s heart belongs to her.

To protect Dong Yi, King Sukjong tells the ministers that she’s now a “Special Court Lady” who has shared his bed.




Note: Read the discussion below on Dong Yi’s dress (“dangui” and “seuran chima”)
Dong Yi enters the Palace dressed up as “Special Court Lady.” With the eunuchs bowing before her and with court ladies attending to her, she’s escorted to her own quarters. But she’s confused about all the special attention being given to her.

Young-dal and Manager Hwang Joo-shik try to see Dong Yi in her new quarters, but they’re accosted by the royal guards. Meanwhile, as the junior lady investigators (and even Lady Bong) laugh at the idea of Dong Yi and the King sharing a bed, Lady Yu comes rushing in and questions Lady Jung about Dong Yi’s status.

Surprised by the events, the Southerners turn to Queen Jang for help since she rules over the Inner Court and has the authority to punish Dong Yi. Meanwhile, the leader of the Westerners reports to Queen Inhyeon that the Southerners have valid grounds to oppose Dong Yi’s appointment as “Special Court Lady.”

When Chun Soo asks him how he really feels about Dong Yi, King Sukjong questions Chun Soo whether he’s asking as a man or as Dong Yi’s brother. Chun Soo then asks King Sukjong what he will do if Dong Yi is reluctant to stay by his side.

After Dong Yi tells him that her past as the daughter of the Sword Fraternity’s chief will someday be exposed, Chun Soo visits her childhood home in Banchon, the slave village.

Queen Jang devises a plan to deal with Dong Yi; she meets King Sukjong and asks him to release Jang Hee-jae from prison.

Dong Yi disappears from the Palace.

Episode 32: The mysterious sickness


Episode 31 recap:

Queen Jang bargains with King Sukjong that she will recognize Dong Yi as a “Special Court Lady” if he releases Jang Hee-jae from prison.

Because of her past as the daughter of the Sword Fraternity’s chief, Dong Yi fears staying with King Sukjong.

King Sukjong follows Dong Yi to the mountain and assures her that whatever her past may be, it doesn’t matter to him.


Dong Yi begins adjusting to her new life in the Palace and learning the rules of the Inner Court.

Lady Jung and Jung-im warn Dong Yi that the Inner Court is a fearsome place. To protect Dong Yi, they volunteer to be her court attendants.

Lord Oh and State Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon plan how to stop Dong Yi’s influence from growing. Meanwhile, Jang Hee-jae begins working in his demoted position.

On Dong Yi’s request, Chief Suh and Chun Soo go back to Uiju to rescue ShimWoon Taek. But as they reach Uiju, Shim Woon Taek has already been taken by some soldiers.

Dong Yi’s maids begin falling one by one to a mysterious illness. As panic spreads among the court maids, no one wants to be assigned to Dong Yi’s residence.

King Sukjong arranges a small gathering outside the Palace for Dong Yi. But later that night, a thunderstorm disrupts the happy get-together at the inn. King Sukjong’s Head Eunuch and guards rush to protect him.

When the mystery illness later spreads from Dong Yi’s quarters to the East Palace, the Crown Prince’s residence, Officer Oh Yoon arrests Dong Yi’s attendants and locks down her quarters.

Episode 33: Dong Yi’s guarantee


Episode 32 recap:

Dong Yi accepts Lady Bong and Ae-jong as her attendants.

Chief Suh and Chun Soo rescue Shim Woon Taek in Uiju. They find out that Qing officials have already passed through there and are on their way to the capital.

Dong Yi and King Sukjong consummate their relationship.


Dong Yi meets Queen Jang and, putting her life on the line, tells her that she will find out the cause of the mysterious illness within three days. After Dong Yi leaves, Queen Jang questions her attendant on who’s responsible for the mysterious illness. Meanwhile, Dong Yi goes to see Lady Yu at the Office of Investigations.

Despite King Sukjong’s concerns, Dong Yi tells him that she’ll handle things within the Inner Court. But later, she finds out that the mysterious illness has spread from the court attendants to the slaves.

When Officer Oh Yoon can’t find the slave records of Dong Yi and Chun Soo, he uses his uncle and cousin (the Bureau of Music officials) to find out everything about Dong Yi’s past.

Chief Suh, Chun Soo, and Shim Woon Taek rush back to the capital.

With the deadline growing closer and Ae-jong herself becoming sick, Dong Yi still can’t figure out what's causing the mysterious illness. But then, she notices that no one from the Royal Kitchen has become sick.

The Qing emissaries arrive in the capital, bringing with them the official recognition of Queen Jang’s son as the Crown Prince.

Episode 34: The ultimatum


Episode 33 recap:

Dong Yi finds out that Queen Jang’s mother poisoned the cosmetics used by the sick court maids. But Queen Jang saves her mother by spinning the story and telling King Sukjong that she was actually the one who found out what caused the sickness among the court maids.

To Dong Yi’s dismay, Chief Suh tells her that the Registration Archives (military documents) that she has is practically useless since the Qing Dynasty has recognized the Crown Prince.

The Qing envoy and his entourage arrive in the capital amidst great fanfare and are welcomed by Lord Oh and the Southerners. Jang Hee-jae happily reports to Queen Jang that her son’s recognition as the Crown Prince is about to come true. Meanwhile, Queen Inhyeon realizes that, with this development, she may never be able to regain her status.

But Dong Yi refuses to give up; she wants to stop the Crown Prince’s recognition by giving King Sukjong the genuine military records and telling him about Jang Hee-jae’s deal with the Qing officials in Uiju.

Leaving the safehouse, Shim Woon Taek confronts Jang Hee-jae in front of the Qing compound at Mohwagwan and shocks him by claiming that King Sukjong has lifted his exile.

After visiting Dong Yi in the Palace and, with the help of Lady Jung and Jung-im, Shim Woon Taek later sneaks into Mohwagwan.

When Officer Oh Yoon couldn’t find anything about Dong Yi’s past, Queen Jang takes matters into her own hands. To everyone’s shock, she promotes Dong Yi from Special Court Lady to Royal Consort.

Episode 35: The confession


Episode 34 recap:

The Qing envoy gives Jang Hee-jae an ultimatum — produce the genuine military records or else, King Sukjong will be told about his attempted bribery.

King Sukjong appoints Shim Woon Taek to a government office with the sole purpose of protecting Dong Yi.

Chief Suh and Lady Jung stop Dong Yi from giving King Sukjong the genuine military records.

Queen Jang schemes to expose Dong Yi’s past by promoting her as Royal Consort.

Chun Soo assures Dong Yi that no one will ever know about her connection to the Sword Fraternity.

Dong Yi confesses to Chief Suh that she is the girl — the daughter of the Sword Fraternity’s chief — whom he has been looking for all these years.

Chun Soo and Sulhee go to a temple to try and find Dong Yi’s family records. Meanwhile, Chief Suh orders his officers to gather all of the records on the Sword Fraternity.

Shin Woon Taek senses something wrong between Dong Yi and Chief Suh, and so he goes to the Bureau of Music to investigate.

Episode 36: The banquet


Episode 35 recap:

Shim Woon Taek finds out about Dong Yi’s connection with the Sword Fraternity.

Chief Suh finally finds out from Chun Soo that Dong Yi’s father wanted to protect him from his superiors.

Dong Yi decides to tell King Sukjong about who she really is. But Chief Suh rushes to the Palace and prevents her from doing so.

Shim Woon Taek lays out before Dong Yi a way to expose Jang Hee-jae’s deal with the Qing officials. Meanwhile, Queen Jang and Jang Hee-jae plan to steal the military records from Dong Yi during the banquet.

Queen Jang forces Dong Yi and her attendants to stay at the banquet.

When soldiers from the State Tribunal refuse to leave the banquet, Chief Suh summons the entire Royal Guard.

Lady Yu and several junior lady investigators sneak into Dong Yi’s quarters. Meanwhile, Jang Hee-jae orders his men to search the houses of Dong Yi’s allies.

After the banquet, Dong Yi rushes back to her quarters and finds out that the military records (“Registration Archive”) have been stolen.

King Sukjong confronts the Qing envoy.

Queen Jang assures Lord Oh of the great role that he will play in the coming conflict between Joseon and the Qing Dynasty.

Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon orders his men to kill Shim Woon Taek.



Episode 37: The King’s decision


Episode 36 recap:

Lady Yu finds the Registration Archives (records of Joseon’s milittary defenses) in Dong Yi’s quarters. She then gives them to Queen Jang and Jang Hee-jae.

Jang Hee-jae arranges a meeting with the Qing envoy to turn over the military records. But Chief Suh and his men raid the meeting place.

When Jang Hee-jae runs and begins burning the records, Chief Suh stops him.

Chun Soo rescues Shim Woon Taek.

Dong Yi tells Queen Jang that she can prove her participation in the botched deal with the Qing officials.

Shim Woon Taek visits the King and later meets deposed Queen Inhyeon.

King Sukjong orders the arrest of all the officials belonging to the Southerners.

Lady Jung shows Lady Yu and the two junior lady investigators the evidence against them.

With all the evidence he has gathered, Chief Suh tells the King that it’s now time to investigate Queen Jang.

Episode 38: The Royal Consort


Episode 37 recap:

To entrap Queen Jang and Lady Yu, Dong Yi used the same method she used to prove Lady Jang’s innocence in the attempted poisoning against Queen Inhyeon.

Lady Yu and the other arrested officials confess that they were following Queen Jang’s order.

King Sukjong overhears Queen Jang threatening Dong Yi.

When the Southerners abandon her, Queen Jang visits King Sukjong and subtly threatens him by using the Crown Prince.

King Sukjong demotes Queen Jang to her former position as Royal Consort and reinstates Queen Inhyeon.

Queen Inhyeon gratefully tells Dong Yi that she will protect her against Lady Jang by giving her authority within the Inner Court.

But Dong Yi’s induction as Royal Consort is disrupted.



Episode 39: Ghosts from the past


Episode 38 recap:

Lord Oh is removed from office, while Jang Hee-jae, Tribunal Officer Oh Yoon, and others are exiled.

Queen Inhyeon appoints Dong Yi as overseer of the Office of Investigations. Dong Yi promotes Lady Jung as the new Head Lady Investigator; she reinstates Lady Yu and the two lady investigators but demotes them to lower ranks.

Before her induction as Royal Consort, Dong Yi finds out that she’s pregnant.

Dong Yi’s baby boy bring great joy to King Sukjong and Queen Inhyeon. But the rumor soon spreads throughout the Palace that Dong Yi’s son will replace Lady Jang’s son as the Crown Prince.

To protect herself and her son, Lady Jang forms an alliance with Jang Mu-yeol, an outcast member of the Southerners. King Sukjong appoints Jang Mu-yeol as governor of the city prefecture.

With Queen Inhyeon’s blessings, Dong Yi sets up a porridge distribution center for the starving refugees. But at the center, chaos ensues when the Director of the Welfare Office is murdered.

Episode 40: The new Sword Fraternity


Episode 39 recap:

To Dong Yi’s shock, the man who murdered the Director of the Welfare Office carried the insignia of the Sword Fraternity.

Lady Jang tells Jang Mu-yeol that it was Lord Oh and not the Sword Fraternity who killed his father. She promises to make him the new leader of the Southerners.

Chun Soo begins investigating if there’s indeed a new Sword Fraternity.

After Lady Jang finds out that Dong Yi has left the Palace, she orders her attendants to call Governor Jang to a meeting. Meanwhile, Queen Inhyeon informs King Sukjong about Dong Yi’s vacation; he becomes concerned for her safety because of the recent killings.

While Lady Bong and Ae-jong worry about Dong Yi’s sudden decision to leave the palace, she disappears. While the guards search for her, two men hiding in the bushes are observing everything in the vacation house.

In disguise, Dong Yi goes to see Sulhee at her gisaeng house. Later, she and Shim Woon Taek begin investigating what the mysterious hand signals could mean.

Governor Jang Mu-yeol offends Lord Oh and the other leaders of the Southerners by calling them to a late-night meeting. Afterwards, he continues to intimidate Lady Yu and her junior lady investigators.

After watching everything that’s going on at an old bridge in the slave village the whole day and night, Chun Soo finally gets a lead. On the mountain, he’s stunned to see dozens upon dozens of armed followers of the new Sword Fraternity.

When the Sword Fraternity kills more government officials, Chief Suh asks Chun Soo to immediately report on the status of his investigation. Governor Jang Mu-yeol, meanwhile, plans to use the murders to create chaos in the capital and to totally discredit the West faction.

Lady Jang’s mother visits Jang Hee-jae in his place of exile and tells him of Governor Jang Mu-yeol’s proposal for lifting his exile.

Dong Yi becomes agitated when Chun Soo reports to her that the Sword Fraternity has been reestablished. Later, she prepares to leave the vacation house again.

Chun Soo goes back to the mountain to contact the group’s leader and ask why they’re killing the nobles. But the leader of the new Sword Fraternity has already ordered and sent out his men to kill their next target — Royal Consort Dong Yi.

Episode 41: The music notes


Episode 40 recap:

Governor Jang Mu-yeol threatens Lady Yu into watching and reporting Dong Yi’s movements.

Despite her pleas, Lady Jung and Jung-im refuse to let Dong Yi go out into the capital.

Chun Soo finds out that the new Sword Fraternity has been reestablished by Dong Yi’s wimpy childhood friend, Gaeduara.

Gaeduara is shocked to find out that the Royal Consort whom he has targeted to kill is none other than his friend Dong Yi.

Dong Yi stuns the men from the Sword Fraternity by telling them that her father is the original founder of their group. Meanwhile, upon hearing that masked men have entered the vacation house, Governor Jang Mu-yeol’s adjutant and soldiers rush there and find the dead guards.

At the Office of Investigations, Lady Bong and Ae-jong get the copies of the Six Classics that Dong Yi wants.

Chun Soo arranges a meeting between Dong Yi and Gaeduara at Sulhee’s gisaeng house.

Governor Jang Mu-yeol presents to King Sukjong his plan to allow the exiled Southerners to return to the capital. But the plan alarms Queen Inhyeon and the Westerners.

Dong Yi asks Shim Woon Taek to help her look for clues in the Six Classics on the meaning of the hand signals. Meanwhile, Chun Soo finally reveals to Chief Suh that the Sword Fraternity is behind the murders of the government officials.

When Governor Jang Mu-yeol finds out about the attack on Dong Yi’s vacation house, he promptly tells Lady Jang about it.

As Lady Jung and Jung-im visit Chief Suh, Lady Yu’s girls continue to watch them.

Dong Yi returns to the Palace and continues to study the Six Classics. Later, Manager Hwang Joo-shik visits her and gives her a haegeum from Sulhee.

After visiting the morgue, Governor Jang Mu-yeol quickly assembles all of the prefecture’s soldiers.

Episode 42: The frame-up


Episode 41 recap:

Despite Dong Yi and Chun Soo’s pleas, Gaeduara says that he won’t stop killing the nobles.

Governor Jang Mu-yeol finds out that it was the Sword Fraternity who attacked Dong Yi at her vacation house.

Dong Yi finally decodes the meaning of the mysterious hand signals.


Dong Yi finally realizes that the hand signals are a code for Lord Oh Tae-suk, the leader of the Southerners. But in a private residence outside of the palace, Governor Jang Mu-yeol tells Lady Jang that Dong Yi is somehow connected to the Sword Fraternity.

Dong Yi also realizes that the murders of the Inspector-General and other leaders of the Southerners more than ten years ago could not have been planned by Lord Oh all by himself. As Lady Jang returns to the Palace, Dong Yi confronts her.

As the exiled Southerners return to the capital, Lord Oh looks forward to regaining his former post and influence. In the Palace, Lady Jang tells Jang Hee-jae of what Dong Yi has been doing against them.

Chief Suh, Shim Woon Taek, and Chun Soo all say that proving Lord Oh’s guilt may be difficult because the killings took place years ago. Dong Yi tells them that they need to create the evidence against Lord Oh.

As King Sukjong receives the secret report from the Royal Secretary about the recent killings, he remembers what Dong Yi told him about why people rise up in rebellion.

Dong Yi entrusts her child to Chief Suh; she then meets Queen Inhyeon and the leader of the Westerners and warns them of the coming chaos in the Palace.

After having studied the records of the Sword Fraternity incident years ago, Governor Jang Mu-yeol breaks protocol and hurries to Lady Jang’s quarters.

Lord Oh leaves the capital in haste, but Gaeduara and his men pursue him.

Episode 43: The revelation and the confession


Episode 42 recap:

Lady Jang and Governor Jang Mu-yeol discover that Dong Yi is the fugitive daughter of the Sword Fraternity’s chief.

Jang Hee-jae’s men kill Lord Oh. Gaeduara and his men fall into a trap, and later, the Prefecture soldiers raid the Sword Fraternity’s mountain hideout.

Dong Yi escapes from the Palace to see the wounded Gaeduara in the gisaeng house. She arranges a way for Gaeduara to escape, but as she’s leading Gaeduara out of the house, King Sukjong arrives.

Governor Jang Mu-yeol arrests Gaeduara and takes Dong Yi into custody. In shock and disbelief, King Sukjong cannot do or say anything. But Chief Suh and Chun Soo rush to the Prefecture to protect Dong Yi.

Dong Yi later meets King Sukjong and finally reveals everything about her connection with the Sword Fraternity. She accepts full responsibility, saying that Chief Suh, the Office of Investigations, and her attendants don’t know anything about her past. In anger, King Sukjong orders Dong Yi confined to her residence.

Shim Woon Taek appeals to Queen Inhyeon to help Dong Yi; later, he also seeks an audience with King Sukjong.

The ministers from the South faction begin petitioning King Sukjong to punish Dong Yi. On the other hand, the Westerners tell Queen Inhyeon that Dong Yi’s situation is hopeless.

Queen Inhyeon confronts Lady Jang and tells her that she will protect Dong Yi. But, later on, Lady Jang orders Governor Jang Mu-yeol to arrest and torture Dong Yi’s attendants, Lady Jung, Jung-im, and Chun Soo.

Episode 44: The tipping point


Episode 43 recap:

King Sukjong visits Gaeduara in his prison cell and asks him why he and the Sword Fraternity members rose up in arms against the government.

King Sukjong tells Dong Yi to lie about her relationship with Gaeduara. Despite the protests by the ministers, he refuses to punish Dong Yi.


Despite Dong Yi’s full confession before the Prefecture, King Sukjong still refuses to punish her.

Government officials from all levels begin boycotting their duties, and the Confucian scholars continue their protests. Seeing the whole government paralyzed because of the continuous boycott and protests, Dong Yi pleads with King Sukjong to punish her.

Dong Yi finds something wrong with her baby boy and immediately calls for the royal physicians.

King Sukjong finally hands down his decision on Gaeduara, the surviving Sword Fraternity members, Chun Soo, and Dong Yi.

Episode 45: Geum and Lady Jang


Episode 44 recap:

Dong Yi’s baby boy dies from measles.

King Sukjong orders that Gaeduara be beheaded and Chun Soo to be exiled to a distant island.

Because of the death of Dong Yi’s baby, King Sukjong retains her title and position but casts her out of the Palace.

Several months after King Sukjong visits her in her place of exile, Dong Yi finds out that she’s pregnant. She later gives birth to another baby boy; King Sukjong names the baby as “Geum” (bright).


Six years later ...

As the Qing entourage arrives in the capital, Geum and several lowborn children get into trouble with a haughty scholar. As the scholar orders that Geum be seized and beaten, Dong Yi arrives.

Geum has grown up without having seen his father King Sukjong even once. He enjoys hearing Dong Yi talk about his father, but he doesn’t know why they have been cast out of the Palace.

Even with the physician’s assurance later on that it was just fatigue, Queen Inhyeon begins to think that there’s something wrong with the Crown Prince.

Despite the passing of the years, Lady Jang has lived in constant fear that King Sukjong could recall Dong Yi and Geum to the Palace.

In school, Geum is bullied by his classmates; he also gets scolded by his Confucian classics teacher for sleeping during class.

King Sukjong and Queen Inhyeon sponsor a feast for lowborn children in the capital. Along with his lowborn friends, Geum enters the Palace. He hopes to meet King Sukjong, but he meets instead the Crown Prince and Lady Jang.

Episode 46: The fire


Episode 45 recap:

Geum is a prodigy who at age seven has mastered by himself the Confucian classics “Doctrine of the Mean” and “Great Learning.”

The Crown Prince is seriously sick, with the possibility that he may never be able to sire children. But Lady Jang has kept his sickness a closely-guarded secret.

The lady investigators under Lady Jung and the Royal Guards under Chief Suh search frantically all over the Palace for Geum.

Geum gets kicked out of the Palace, and later, while crying in an isolated place, he meets King Sukjong.


King Sukjong introduces himself to Geum as the Justice Officer of the Prefecture, and they spend the day together in the capital.

Dong Yi decides to take Geum out of his school and begins looking for a private tutor. She also investigates who the Justice Officer could be.

King Sukjong calls Chief Suh and tells him what his plans for Geum are.

Queen Inhyeon begins the process for selecting the Crown Prince’s bride, causing Lady Jang to panic.

Lady Jang’s mother finds out that King Sukjong has been seen near Dong Yi’s house and has met Geum.

Episode 47: The future King


Episode 46 recap:

When Lady Jang requests that the selection of the Crown Princess be postponed again, Queen Inhyeon becomes suspicious that something might be wrong with the Crown Prince.

Woon Hak refuses Dong Yi’s request that he become Geum’s tutor.

Lady Jang’s mother hires some thugs to kill Dong Yi and Geum by setting fire to their house.

Despite opposition by the Southerners, King Sukjong declares that he will bring Dong Yi and Geum to the Palace.

Dong Yi and Geum enter the Palace so that Geum can begin attending the Royal Institute. But soon enough, Geum goes missing in the Palace.

Queen Inhyeon organizes a welcome banquet for Dong Yi, and there, Dong Yi and Lady Jang meet again.

Despite Dong Yi’s pleas, Woon Hak still refuses to become Geum’s tutor.

Queen Inhyeon meets the nurse of the Crown Prince’s personal physician.

Fearing for the Crown Prince’s position, Lady Jang plans to humiliate Geum before everyone in the Palace.

Episode 48: The Royal Lectures Office


Episode 47 recap:

Geum is given his royal title of “Prince Yeon Ing,” while Dong Yi is promoted to “Suk-ui” (Royal Noble Consort, rank 2).

Geum shocks everyone — King Sukjong, the Crown Prince, the Royal tutors — by reciting and explaining verses from the Confucian classic “Great Learning.”

Queen Inhyeon finally finds out what’s physically wrong with the Crown Prince.

On Queen Inhyeon’s suggestion, King Sukjong orders that Geum be educated together with the Crown Prince at the Royal Lectures Office.

The Southerners protest King Sukjong’s decision to allow Prince Yeon Ing (Geum) to study with the Crown Prince at the Royal Lectures Office.

King Sukjong goes to see Woon Hak.

With all the tonics that he has been drinking, the Crown Prince becomes curious about what’s wrong with him.

Lady Jang orders Jang Hee-jae to find the missing nurse.

King Sukjong recalls Chun Soo from his exile.

After visiting a shaman, Lady Jang’s mother orders her thugs to kidnap Ho Yang (the former Bureau of Music official who’s infatuated with Dong Yi).

Queen Inhyeon confronts Lady Jang about the Crown Prince.



Episode 49: Queen Inhyeon and the shaman


Episode 48 recap:

Woon Hak agrees to be Prince Yeon Ing’s tutor.

King Sukjong appoints Chun Soo as Tribunal Officer and orders him to protect Dong Yi and Prince Yeon Ing.

Lady Jang’s mother confesses to Jang Hee-jae that she ordered the burning of Dong Yi’s house and the kidnapping of Ho Yang.

Queen Inhyeon’s soldiers capture the men sent by Jang Hee-jae to find the missing nurse.

Queen Inhyeon orders Lady Jang to reveal the Crown Prince’s sickness to the King.

The shaman tells Jang Hee-jae that Queen Inhyeon must die if he and Lady Jang want to survive.

Dong Yi finds Queen Inhyeon unconscious in her quarters.

As Queen Inhyeon lies unconscious, King Sukjong rushes to her side. Later, Lady Jang insists that she be allowed to see Queen Inhyeon.

From Lady Jung’s report, Dong Yi asks Lady Ahn why Queen Inhyeon visited Lady Jang the night before.

Woon Hak and Prince Yeon Ing climb up a mountain and look for acorns. Later, Prince Yeon Ing and the Crown Prince work together on a wreath for Queen Inhyeon.

As Chief Suh and Chun Soo increase the security around Queen Inhyeon’s residence, Lady Jang’s mother sneaks the shaman into the Palace.

Jang Hee-jae and his men snatch Jong-Geum, Queen Inhyeon’s attendant. (Besides Queen Inhyeon, only Jong-Geum knows where the nurse’s safe house is.)

Episode 50: Farewell, Queen Inhyeon!


Episode 49 recap:

Prince Yeon Ing finds the voodoo doll and name tag that were used by the shaman in cursing Queen Inhyeon.

Jang Hee-jae’s men and the Royal Guards under Chun Soo race against each other towards the safe house where the nurse is being kept.

But Minister Jang Mu-yeol’s men arrive first at the safe house and snatch the nurse. The nurse later confesses that the Crown Prince may not be able to sire children.

In her last moments, Queen Inhyeon makes Dong Yi promise that she and Prince Yeon Ing will survive in the Palace.

After reassuring King Sukjong that she harbors no ill feelings towards him, Queen Inhyeon makes a final request for Dong Yi.

Queen Inhyeon dies.

The Southerners, under Minister Jang Mu-yeol, form an alliance with the Soron faction of the Westerners.

Dong Yi and Lady Jang find out separately about the growing bond as brothers between Prince Yeon Ing and the Crown Prince.

Prince Yeon Ing sneaks into the Royal Pharmacy.

Dong Yi secretly visits Lady Jang.

King Sukjong starts acting on Queen Inhyeon’s last request for Dong Yi.

Episode 51: The bond of brothers


Episode 50 recap:

With Prince Yeon Ing’s help, the Crown Prince finally learns what’s wrong with him physically.

As a sign of sincerity and good will, Dong Yi gives the voodoo doll and name tag to Lady Jang. She assures Lady Jang that Prince Yeon Ing will not be a threat and that the Crown Prince will surely be the next King.

Before her death, Queen Inhyeon requested King Sukjong to appoint Dong Yi as the next Queen in order to protect both the Crown Prince and Prince Yeon Ing.

King Sukjong orders that Dong Yi be promoted as a Royal Noble Consort with the same rank as Lady Jang.

Minister Jang Mu-yeol switches sides to Dong Yi and turns over the nurse to Chief Suh and Chun Soo. But Jang Hee-jae finds out this doublecross.

Lady Jang visits Dong Yi.

The ministers from the Southerners and the Soron faction accuse Prince Yeon Ing of stealing the Crown Prince’s books.

In a contentious meeting with the ministers, King Sukjong reveals his royal decree for Dong Yi.

After confronting Jang Hee-jae, Minister Jang Mu-yeol visits Dong Yi.

The Crown Prince and Prince Yeon Ing escape from the Palace.



Episode 52: The blame game


Episode 51 recap:

Lady Jang turns down Dong Yi’s offer of peace, saying that she will make Dong Yi kneel before her.

The Crown Prince tells King Sukjong that he lent his books to Prince Yeon Ing.

King Sukjong appoints Dong Yi as Royal Noble Consort of the 1st rank, equal to Lady Jang’s rank. The rumor soon spreads that Dong Yi will be the next Queen.

Minister Jang Mu-yeol offers his help to Dong Yi in attacking Lady Jang and the Crown Prince. But Dong Yi turns him down.

The Crown Prince and Prince Yeon Ing enjoy themselves in the streets of the capital. But then the Crown Prince is accused of being a pickpocket and gets thrown into jail.

King Sukjong orders the Royal Guards and all the men in the police bureaus to search for the Crown Prince.

Dong Yi, Chun Soo, and the Lady Investigators also begin searching for Prince Yeon Ing.


The frantic search for the Crown Prince and Prince Yeon Ing continues all over the streets of the capital.

Still hiding his true identity, the Crown Prince takes the policemen to a house where he claims to live.

Prince Yeon Ing seeks the help of Young-dal and Manager Hwang Joo-shik.

Lady Jang orders her guards to arrest Prince Yeon Ing. Later, the ministers from the Southerners and the Soron faction insist that Prince Yeon Ing must be punished.

Episode 53: The Crown Prince’s revelation


Episode 52 recap:

Chun Soo rescues the Crown Prince, while Manager Hwang Joo-shik brings Prince Yeon Ing back to the Palace.

The Crown Prince and Prince Yeon Ing each take the blame for the mess they created.

Lady Jang scolds the Crown Prince, telling him that Prince Yeon Ing is his enemy.

Feeling guilty about Prince Yeon Ing’s situation, the Crown Prince goes to see King Sukjong.

The Crown Prince reveals his sickness to King Sukjong. Angry that this has been kept a secret from him, King Sukjong confronts Lady Jang.

The Oh father and son capture the men who tried to hang Ho Yang.

Minister Jang Mu-yeol increases the pressure on Lady Jang and Jang Hee-jae by talking with the Soron ministers.

Lady Jang leaves the Palace to talk with the Soron ministers.

Lady Jung of the Office of Investigations orders the arrest of Lady Jang’s attendants.

Episode 54: End of the road for Jang Hee-jae


Episode 53 recap:

Madam Yoon (Lady Jang’s mother) is arrested for ordering the burning of Dong Yi’s house.

Lady Jang begs on her knees for King Sukjong’s forgiveness.

The Soron ministers turn their backs on Lady Jang.

Lady Jang vows to drag Dong Yi and Prince Yeon Ing down with her.

Jang Hee-jae and his men get fire accelerants and set fire to the Crown Prince’s residence. In the ensuing chaos, assassins attack Dong Yi and Prince Yeon Ing.


Chun Soo rescues Dong Yi and Prince Yeon Ing from the assassins.

King Sukjong learns that the assassins were sent by Jang Hee-jae.

Finding out that his grandmother tried to kill Dong Yi and Prince Yeon Ing, the Crown Prince is overcome with guilt and shame, refuses to eat, and becomes sick.

After meeting with Lady Jang, King Sukjong gathers all the ministers in a Grand Assembly.

Episode 55: The death sentence


Episode 54 recap:

After seeing her mother and brother being tortured, Lady Jang breaks down and admits that she masterminded the attempts against the lives of Dong Yi and Prince Yeon Ing.

King Sukjong orders that Jang Hee-jae and Madam Yoon to be beheaded.

When he sees no remorse whatsoever from Lady Jang, King Sukjong orders her execution by poison.

Realizing that Prince Yeon Ing’s life will always be threatened, Dong Yi faces a dilemma on whether to accept her appointment as the new Queen.

Dong Yi and the Crown Prince plead with King Sukjong about the death sentence for Lady Jang. Later, Dong Yi visits Lady Jang at her residence where she’s being kept under guard.

When the Noron faction insists that Dong Yi should be appointed as the new Queen, the Southerners and the Soron faction plot against her.

The Crown Prince is overcome with despair, feeling guilty about everything that has happened and thinking that he will be cast out of the Palace.

Episode 56: Queen Inwon


Episode 55 recap:


On her knees, Lady Jang begs Dong Yi to protect the Crown Prince.

With King Sukjong watching from afar, Lady Jang is executed by poisoning.

Dong Yi tells Chief Suh, Shim Woon Taek, and Chun Soo that for the two princes to survive, Prince Yeon Ing must become the Heir Successor.

After Dong Yi refuses to become the next Queen, Lady Kim is appointed and becomes Queen Inwon. Almost immediately, tension arises between Queen Inwon and Dong Yi over their roles in the Inner Court.

Falling under the influence of Minister Jang Mu-yeol, Queen Inwon tells Dong Yi that Prince Yeon Ing must get married and leave the Palace.

Jang Mu-yeol and his men are attacked by a masked man.

Shim Woon Taek rallies the Noron ministers to stand against Prince Yeon Ing’s early marriage.

Despite worrying about Prince Yeon Ing’s safety, Dong Yi continues to look after the Crown Prince’s welfare.

Posters are placed all over the capital announcing the prohibition against marriages and the selection of Prince Yeon Ing’s bride.

Not satisfied with the nominated candidates, Dong Yi alarms the Soron ministers when she goes to the house of the previous Soron leader, who’s widely-respected among the Confucian scholars.

Episode 57: Dong Yi’s expulsion and the coup


Episode 56 recap:

Dong Yi insists to Queen Inwon that she alone has the right to choose Prince Yeon Ing’s bride.

Dong Yi chooses as bride the daughter of a lowly Confucian scholar — a disciple of Woon Hak who’s not interested in politics.

The Soron ministers laugh at Dong Yi’s choice but later on become frantic when they find out that the Confucian scholar’s house is filled with “royal energy.”

Threatened by Chun Soo, Minister Jang Mu-yeol backtracks and says that Prince Yeon Ing does not have to leave the Palace after he gets married.

Prince Yeon Ing gets married.

King Sukjong asks Dong Yi about her true intentions for Prince Yeon Ing.

Queen Inwon becomes intrigued by Dong Yi’s decisions and actions.

King Sukjong cancels all his appointments and goes on a short vacation. Later, he tells the ministers that the Crown Prince will now on attend all the assemblies and be given more responsibilities.

King Sukjong shocks everyone when he declares that Dong Yi must leave the Palace. The rumors begin spreading that all the officials close to Dong Yi will be demoted or dismissed.

While the Soron ministers rejoice over Dong Yi’s expulsion from the Palace, Minister Jang Mu-yeol becomes suspicious of King Sukjong’s true intentions.

Minister Jang Mu-yeol wants to use the gullible Queen Inwon to strike Dong Yi and all her followers. Conniving with the Soron leader and ministers, he gains total control over the army and begins to lock down the Palace.

Episode 58: The ambush


Episode 57 recap:

King Sukjong reveals to Dong Yi and Chun Soo that he will abdicate so that the Crown Prince will become King and Prince Yeon Ing will become the Heir Successor.

While King Sukjong is meeting the Qing emissary in Ohnyang, Minister Jang Mu-yeol gains total control of the Palace.

Queen Inwon visits Dong Yi, while Chun Soo confronts Minister Jang Mu-yeol.

Minister Jang Mu-yeol misleads Queen Inwon that Dong Yi, Chun Soo, and their followers will try to grab power. He urges Queen Inwon to order Dong Yi to leave the Palace immediately.

With only a handful of Royal Guards to protect both Dong Yi and Prince Yeon Ing, Chun Soo asks Shim Woon Taek to gather all the private soldiers of the Noron officials.

The Crown Prince is on his way to an official event, but Minister Jang Mu-yeol has changed his entourage’s route to the route that Dong Yi is supposed to take on her way to Yihyun Palace.

Episode 59: The reckoning


Episode 58 recap:

Using explosives, Minister Jang mu-yeol stages an ambush against the Crown Prince’s entourage. Thinking that Dong Yi’s entourage is under attack, the private soldiers of the Noron officials rush to her defense. Despite Chun Soo’s pleas, a misencounter takes place between the private soldiers and the Crown Prince’s guards.

Minister Jang Mu-yeol urges Queen Inwon to issue a decree for Dong Yi’s arrest.

Dong Yi orders the soldiers to arrest Minister Jang Mu-yeol and his men.

The Royal Guards under Chief Suh begin watching the movements of the Soron officials.

Episode 60: Finale


Episode 59 recap:

Believing in Dong Yi’s sincerity and after finding out that King Sukjong plans to abdicate, Queen Inwon issues a decree for the arrest of Minister Jang Mu-yeol and his men.

King Sukjong orders the execution of Minister Jang Mu-yeol and the Soron officials who helped him.

All the ministers and Confucian scholars protest King Sukjong’s plan to abdicate.

Queen Inwon decides to adopt Prince Yeon Ing so that he can become the legitimate Heir Successor.

Despite King Sukjong’s misgivings, Dong Yi leaves the Palace. Using her position as Royal Consort, she becomes a “waeji bu” (private legal officer) for the poor and oppressed people in the capital.

Dong Yi and King Sukjong’s relationship comes full circle.


Note: To better understand what a “waeji bu” is, please read my notes and references in Episode 36 of “The Flower in Prison.”

Theme-based video recaps


(Note: When you click the “Play” button, the video will open directly to the relevant scene.)

A. The most-loved theme in this drama is the friendship between Dong Yi and Queen Inhyeon.

1. Dong Yi meets Queen Inhyeon for the first time. (Ep. 13, #04)

2. Dong Yi vows to prove Queen Inhyeon’s innocence. (Ep. 21, #01)

3. Dong Yi visits Queen Inhyeon during her exile. (Ep. 22, #06)

4. Queen Inhyeon tells Dong Yi that King Sukjong loves her. (Ep. 30, #07)

5. Dong Yi welcomes Queen Inhyeon after her reinstatement. (Ep. 38, #03)

6. Queen Inhyeon vows to protect Dong Yi at all costs (Ep. 43, #07)

7. Queen Inhyeon welcomes Dong Yi and Geum back into the Palace. (Ep. 47, #01)

8. Dong Yi bids farewell to Queen Inhyeon. (Ep. 50, #01)

















B. Like mother, like son: The first video below (Ep. 02, #01) shows Dong Yi as a young girl trying out to be the greeter for the Lunar New Year. The second video (Ep. 45, #04) shows Geum falling asleep in class and then surprising his teacher with his mastery of the Confucian classics.





C. The complex relationship between Dong Yi and Lady Jang fuels this drama’s conflict.

1. Dong Yi, as an adult, meets and speaks with Lady Jang one-on-one for the first time. (Ep. 07, #07)

2. Lady Jang saves Dong Yi from being interrogated through torture by submitting herself to the authority of the lady investigators. (Ep. 10, #01)

3. Dong Yi expresses her unwavering faith in Lady Jang after she saves Lady Jang from being accused in the attempted poisoning of Queen Inhyeon. (Ep. 11, #03)

4. Dong Yi’s faith in Lady Jang is shattered as Lady Jang tries to cover up her attendant’s complicity in the plot against the Queen Mother. (Ep. 18, #03)

5. Lady Jang finds out about the special friendship between King Sukjong and Dong Yi. (Ep. 19, #04)

6. Lady Jang again sees King Sukjong and Dong Yi enjoying each other's company, and she vows to end everything by killing Dong Yi. (Ep. 22, #07)

7. Dong Yi confronts Lady Jang after Queen Inhyeon is dethroned. (Ep. 21, #02)

8. Queen Jang mocks Dong Yi for being naive and for her powerlessness (Ep. 33, #07)

9. Dong Yi offers peace between her and Lady Jang for the sake of the Crown Prince and Prince Yeon Ing. (Ep. 50, #05)

10. Lady Jang begs on her knees for Dong Yi to protect the Crown Prince. (Ep. 55, #02)





















D. Besides the friendship between Dong Yi and Queen Inhyeon, another well-loved theme is the relationship of student and mentor between Dong Yi and Lady Jung of the Office of Investigations.

1. Dong Yi meets Lady Jung for the first time when, as a slave in the Bureau of Music, she tries to plead Lady Jang’s innocence. (Ep. 10, #03)

2. Lady Jung sympathizes with Dong Yi as Dong Yi begs for a chance to prove herself as a lady investigator. (Ep. 13, #03)

3. Dong Yi and Lady Jung are reunited inside the Palace, after Dong Yi has been presumed dead for the last three months after the fire in the Treasury. (Ep. 28, #06)

4. Lady Jung visits Dong Yi in her residence as Special Court Lady and tells her that it could be the last time she can ever call her as “Dong Yi.” (Ep. 31, #04)

5. To protect Lady Jung and her other friends, Dong Yi orders them to leaver her residence. But despite the danger, Lady Jung leads the others into vowing their loyalty to Dong Yi. (Ep. 43, #04)











E. Full circle: The first video (Ep. 06, #07) shows Dong Yi and the Justice Officer (aka King Sukjong) while investigating the Omen of Discordance and Dong Yi stepping on the officer’s back so that she can climb over the wall. The second video (Ep. 60, #06) shows Dong Yi again stepping on King Sukjong’s back in the final episode.





“Dong Yi” and its connections with other historical dramas like “Yi San,” “Jumong,” “The King’s Doctor,” and “The Flower in Prison”


1. “Dong Yi” (2010) and its connections with 2008 hit drama “Yi San" (aka “Lee San, Wind of the Palace”)

(a) In “Yi San,” a slave gang known as the “Saljoogyeran” kills several Noron officials who have abused their slaves. In “Dong Yi,” the Sword Fraternity, under Gaeduara, kills abusive slave owners. The slave gangs in “Yi San” and the Sword Fraternity in “Dong Yi” have their distinctive symbols.

(b) In “Yi San,” King Yeongjo gives the double jade rings that his beloved mother gave to him to Song-yeon after she painted the portrait of Crown Prince Sado (see the first video below).

King Yeongjo is “Geum” or Prince Yeoning in “Dong Yi.” And King Sukjong gives the double jade rings to Dong Yi as you can see in the second video below.





2. “Dong Yi” (2010), “Jumong” (2006-2007) and “Yi San” (2008)

The first picture below shows Dong Yi running to the thatched-roof house of deposed Queen Inhyeon (Ep. 22). The second picture below shows a scene from the 2006-2007 hit drama “Jumong” where Buyoung rushes to find Jumong after she was been released by Dochi and Young Po (Ep. 23). These two scenes were shot on the same street; notice the house on the right and the mountain in the background. Read more about Samhanji Theme Park where some scenes of “Dong Yi” and “Jumong” were filmed.



The picture below is from “Yi San” (I can’t remember which episode), but it shows Song-yeon and Daesu walking past by what looks like the same house in the two pictures above.



3. “Dong Yi” (2010) and “The King’s Doctor” (2012)

The pictures below come from two dramas, but they look almost the same. The first picture comes from “Dong Yi,” while the second picture comes from “The King’s Doctor” (aka “Horse Doctor”). The pictures look the same probably because both dramas were directed by the same person, Lee Byung-hoon. He is known as the “King of sageuks” for having directed (besides “Dong Yi” and “The King’s Doctor”) hit historical dramas like “A Jewel in the Palace” and “The Flower in Prison.”





4. “Dong Yi” (2010) and “The Flower in Prison” (2016)

“The Flower in Prison” (TFiP) is 2016 hit directed by Lee Byung-hoon, who also directed “Dong Yi.” In several ways, TFiP parallels “Dong Yi.”

(a) In Episode 60, Dong Yi leaves the Palace and serves as legal officer for the poor and weak in the capital. The whole premise of TFiP is that its lead character Ok Nyeo becomes a “waeji bu” or private legal officer in Joseon.

(b) In Episode 54, the wife of the Bureau of Music's Director urges the crowd to stone Jang Hee-jae and his mother as they’re being exiled. The actress who plays that role also appeared in TFiP as the owner of the tavern located right beside Jeonokseo.

In the scene in Episode 51 (TFiP) where Lord Yoon and Jung Nan Jung are being exiled, the tavern owner urges the crowd to stone them.

(c) In Episodes 40 and 41, Dong Yi leaves the Palace and gets threatened by the new Sword Fraternity. In these episodes, she wears an upper garment (“dangui”) and a skirt (“seuran chima”) that look the same as what Ok Nyeo wears when she enters the Palace as a princess in TFiP’s Episode 51. Dong Yi’s dress, however, looks deeper in color.








Seryong, with Princess Kyunghye, putting on a “dangui”
and “seuran chima” from Episode 1 of “The Princess’ Man.”
The type of dress worn by Dong Yi and Ok Nyeo consists of the “dangui” (upper garment) and the “seuran chima” (skirt).

The “dangui” was also worn by women from the “yangban” (noble class) and other court women. But the “dangui” and “seuran chima” worn as everyday clothes by the members of the royal family were distinguished by gold leaf designs known as “geumbak.”

For the “dangui” worn by queens and empresses, dragon emblems were also sewn on the shoulders.

For more information about the “dangui” and other attire of the royal family, surf to Joseon’s Court Attire: Kdrama Style (Part 1). You might also be interested in in the hit 2014 historical movie “The Royal Tailor” starring Go Soo and Park Shin Hye.

For one reason or another, Dong Yi’s and Ok Nyeo’s “dangui” have silver, rather than gold, designs.

The skirt (“seuran chima”) that was worn by the royal family members also had decorations (“geumbak”).

Historical backgrounders, review, and analysis (external links)


1. The “Dong Yi” character is based on the historical figure Suk-bin Choe, one of the best known royal concubines of King Sukjong of Joseon (17 December 1670 – 9 April 1718).

From Wikipedia article on Suk-bin Choe:

She entered the palace at the age of 7. She belonged to the “cheonmin” class which was the lowest class during the Joseon Dynasty. How she and the King had their first encounter is unknown. The most accepted version is that she was a “musuri”, i.e. a water maid, in the palace, i.e. a palace slave, during the time when Queen Inhyeon was deposed and exiled, and the concubine, Jang Hui-Bin, had acquired the status of queen. One night, Choi Suk Bin was praying for Queen Inhyeon’s well being when King Sukjong of Joseon, who was returning to the palace from a trip, overheard her and was moved by her words. The book authored by Yi Mun Jeong (1656–1726) describes the events that led to the execution of Jang Hui-Bin. The author who lived during Sukjong’s time, recorded the encounter as follows:

“One night, the King [Sukjong] couldn’t sleep, and suffering from insomnia decided to go out. When returning to the palace and passing by the servants’ chambers, he suddenly heard sobbing coming from a small room. Out of curiosity, he took a peep into the room, then to his surprise in this neat and tidy room, he saw there was a setup of an offering for a banquet. He then saw a young palace Musuri dressed in her official uniform, weeping bitterly in front of the table set for a memorial ritual. The memorial tablet was set for the former Queen Inhyeon. The King was surprised, since Queen Inhyeon had been deposed. The Musuri had placed the memorial tablet because the deposed Queen Inhyeon had sacrificed herself for the King’s sake. But fearing Queen Jang Hui Bin’s influence, no one dared to commemorate the deposed Queen Inhyeon, as no one wanted to be accused and executed. The King was surprised that even under these perilous circumstances someone dared to risk death to honor and pray for Queen Inhyeon’s well being, and he spoke to her. The Musuri (later to become Choi Suk Bin) heard his voice, and turning around, was stunned to see the King. Recognizing him, she knelt before him and he asked her for an explanation. The Musuri answered with a trembling voice, “Chon Na, I used to serve under Queen Inhyeon when she was Queen. Today is her birthday, I cannot forget the kindness that Queen Inhyeon rendered to me when I served under her, thus privately I set a memorial for her. Please punish me with death.” Hearing such an extreme plea, the King was taken aback and was astonished. Others in her situation would have played safe and not put themselves at risk, but this Musuri risked death to honor her former queen. Commendable and virtuous indeed was she and the King, finding himself witnessing this, was moved. He then brought the young Musuri to his bed chambers. His feelings turned from sympathy into fondness and then into love, and he spent many nights with her. Over time, this Musuri came to be known as Choi Suk Bin”.

Favored by the King, in the fourth lunar month of the nineteenth year of King Sukjong’s reign (1693), she became Sukjong’s concubine with the rank of Suk-won, after giving birth to a prince who died young. In 1694, during the twentieth year of Sukjong’s reign, she was elevated to the rank of Suk-ui (Royal Noble Consort, rank 2) after giving birth to a son, Prince Yeoning. In 1695, she was again elevated to the rank of Gwi-in. In 1698, she gave birth to another prince who died in childbirth. In 1699, she was again promoted to the rank of Bin (rank 1 of Royal Noble Consorts), with the adjective Suk, meaning “pure.”

Lady Choi openly supported Queen Inhyeon and was against Jang Hui-bin, who history remembers as an evil and cruel woman. By 1693, the King was growing disillusioned by Jang Hui-bin and the Southerner faction. In 1694, King Sukjong brought back Queen Inhyeon and demoted Jang to Hui-bin.

2. Political factions in Joseon Dynasty (Wikipedia)

“In the 16th century, a nationwide split occurred within the Sarim faction between the Western faction (Seo-in) and Eastern faction (Dong-in), composed mainly of younger generation. Political divisions intensified even further as the Eastern faction in turn split between the hard-line Northern faction (Buk-in) and the moderate Southern faction (Nam-in) and the Western factions split between the Old Learning (No-ron) and the Young Learning (So-ron). Northern faction further split into Greater Northern and Smaller Northern factions. These names for faction often come from relative location of its leader's house.”

3. “Daebak – Factionalism and The Reigns of Kings Sukjong and Yeongjo” (Epiphanyblog)

... in 1575 a major dispute first arose between two political cliques, the Easterners (Tongin) and Westerners (Soin) over appointments to powerful middle-level positions in the Ministry of Personnel. The dispute became a hereditary conflict, passed from one generation to another, and from Confucian teachers to their students. The Easterners quickly gained dominance over the Westerners but an internal split developed in the Western faction between Northerners and Southerners.

The first factional battle of his reign occurred between the Western vs Southern factions. The Southern party lost and was purged from government and was driven out of politics with numerous executions and exiles. The Western faction, then, split into Noron (Old Learning, i,e, conservative) and Soron (New Learning, i.e. progressive).

After nine years in power, the Noron collapsed when Sukjong deposed Queen Inhyeon and named Consort Hui of Jang clan (also called Consort Jang or Jang Hui-Bin) as the new queen. The Noron faction, who supported Queen Inhyeon, opposed Sukjong’s deposing Inhyeon while the Soron faction, who supported Lady Jang, approved.

4. Chart of Joseon Kings and Related Sageuk Dramas

“[King Sukjong] had to deal with the continuing fight for power between the Westerners and Southerners. The Westerners won (for a while) but broke into two smaller factions (Soron and Noron). The political situation is portrayed in Dong Yi (MBC, 2010) – a romance based on the relationship between King Sukjong and Suk Bin (Dong Yi), concubine and mother of King Yeongjo.”

5. How is King Sukjong portrayed in Dong Yi (MBC 2010)

6. Articles from The Talking Cupboard: Royal Ranks in Joseon Dynasty; Women of the Joseon Dynasty (Part 1)

7. Dong Yi — the politics; Dong Yi — superstition and magic; Dong Yi — the minor characters; Dong Yi — final thoughts

“Dong Yi” OST and videos on “haegeum” (native Korean instrument used in this drama)


“Dong Yi” theme song (instrumental)



“Dong Yi” theme song (slow version)



Process of Making a Haegeum (Arirang Culture)



Window on Korean Culture 2: Haegeum



Solo Arirang for Haegeum, Violin and Piano



The Song of Sorrowful Winds: flute and haegeum



Lessons in photography from “Dong Yi”




Lessons: color wheel, color temperature, harmonious colors, cool colors. Note: This scene from Episode 38, I think, shows Queen Inhyeon arriving in the palace; she was reinstated to her position because of Dong Yi’s sacrifices.





Lessons: themes in photo essays, reflection. Note: The first picture above shows the young Dong Yi in Episode 2, while the second picture shows Dong Yi as a new Lady Investigator in Episode 12.



Lesson: linear perspective



Lessons: patterns, line of direction, conveying depth through overlapping objects









Lesson: in these four pictures, a natural frame is created as the camera moves to the right. Note: This scene from Episode 20 shows Queen Inhyeon right after she has been deposed.



Lessons: natural frame (partial), diagonal lines



Lesson: natural frame using out of focus highlights





Lessons: rack focus, selective or differential focusing



Lessons: rule of thirds, silhouette, aerial perspective



Lessons: symmetry, foreground frame



Lessons: aerial perspective, rule of thirds, strong vertical line



Lessons: rack focus, selective or differential focusing



Lessons: diagonal lines, converging lines, vanishing point, low angle shot



Lessons: diagonal lines, patterns, low angle shot



Lesson in photography: high angle shot (high angle point of view)



Lessons in photography: foreground element, rule of thirds, aerial perspective



Lessons: foreground blur, background blur, line of direction

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